Recently, I’ve found myself fielding numerous questions about what Scientologists “believe,” so I’m going to address the subject of belief in Scientology in a way you’re probably not expecting. Bear with me.
First of all, no one is expected to “believe” anything in Scientology. They’re encouraged to examine it, use it and evaluate it. They’re encouraged to compare before-and-after results of its application. But not to “believe” in it. What they experience for themselves is all there is to believing. But if we take a look at why a religion exists that doesn’t require belief we find a very fundamental principle at work—a principle that embraces not only Scientology but the mind, and really, life itself. To wit, if someone is one hundred percent convinced that something is true, then it might as well be true. For it will certainly be true for them.
Now just think about that. How many times have you tried to get through to someone who’s absolutely convinced of something? They will think, act and react, and factor that belief into everything they do and don’t do. You can sit there knowing “something” is not true, try to reason with them until you are blue in the face and get absolutely nowhere. On the other hand, we live in a society built by people whose belief in themselves and in their purpose allowed them to accomplish both great and small things and enabled them to overcome obstacles and become leaders, artists, entrepreneurs, scientists and builders of business empires.
How many hearts have been broken by believing the words of a liar and cheat? How many lives have been destroyed by belief in rumors?
So we find that “belief”—being convinced—is the thing which can potentially go both wrong and right with the mind.
For example, I have a rescue dog who practically panics every time I walk by, but comes over for petting when I sit down. Someone abused this dog to the point of complete conviction that a man standing up will hurt him, but a man sitting down is safe. That is just one example of how far and out-of-control belief and conviction can become. You will find not-a-few people in the same state of mind about one thing or another. And those people will be considered “crazy” if and when their convictions—beliefs—become a problem for everyone around them.
Santa Claus, the Tooth Fairy, superheroes, witches, goblins and boogeymen. All things we may have believed as children yet reject as adults. There are the creation stories and explanations of ancient tribes passed along for millennia, until the advent of modern science when new explanations (along with our belief in those explanations) were born.
But what about the more subtle and insidious versions of unexamined, unreasoned beliefs and convictions which we deal with every day? The constant pounding of negative stories in the news media makes people believe that the world is dangerous, despite the fact that the vast majority of people are quite well-intended. And then there are the endless clashes of political, religious and cultural beliefs, where much is asserted and nothing is resolved, and which so often end in wars and destruction.
How many young people become depressed and suicidal after being convinced by bullying or lack of popularity that they have no value? And how many people waste their potential and their lives because they believe that looks and popularity are all that matters? How many hearts have been broken by believing the words of a liar and cheat? How many lives have been destroyed by belief in rumors? How many people make bad decisions because of their belief in the opinions of people around them?
On the other side of the coin of “belief” how many people have gotten over a medical condition by the placebo effect? How many people have become happy and successful by simply changing their environment or group of friends to one with more positive beliefs? Or by simply becoming educated with more accurate beliefs?
As L. Ron Hubbard researched the mind from the fresh, detached discipline of the field of engineering, the power that beliefs, convictions and conclusions have over a person's mind, life and well-being became obvious. It was the most powerful force and the biggest factor. The problem to solve then became one of putting people in control of their beliefs and helping them gain freedom from convictions and beliefs which controlled their lives and which held them back and held them down—whether the insane beliefs of a raving psycho, or the more common beliefs born of ignorance and falsehoods.
The ability to examine convictions and beliefs (our own and others’), to sort out the true from the false, relies on our ability to reason and our skill with reason. Anything which increases that ability and skill is not just therapeutic, but highly beneficial.
While never demanding belief, Scientology addresses the subject of it. Freedom from it, freedom to change it, and freedom to put it to use. It assists individuals toward greater control and mastery of beliefs and convictions and, as a result, greater control and mastery of better decisions and a better life.